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Pursue an Online Fashion Merchandising Certificate

In pursuing an online fashion merchandising certificate, students dive into subjects connected to fashion design, fashion buying and selling, and cultivating current and new fashions as both product and works of art. Programs help students grow their business knowledge of how fashion professionals reach their intended audiences and prompt consumers to appreciate and consume new products.  

Online Fashion Merchandising Certificate Degrees Awarded

What Will I Study When I Pursue an Online Fashion Merchandising Certificate?

Certificate programs are generally designed to enable students to:

  • Learn about specific aspects of business and how they relate to fashion.
  • Explore specific components of fashion as part of the manufacturing and selling process.
  • Study fashion merchandising to begin their advanced education or enhance a business or fashion degree.

Within this context, students by and large study three key fields of knowledge when they pursue an online fashion merchandising certificate:

  1. Fashion as an art
  2. Fashion as an industry
  3. Fashion as a business  

The degree to which students study each subject depends on the certificate and the goals of the student. One online fashion merchandising certificate might focus heavily on fashion design, while another might focus primarily on fashion as an industry or business. Other fashion merchandising certificates offer a balanced look into all three subjects. It simply depends on the school and the certificate’s primary goal.

Here are some more specific subjects you might study in each area as you pursue an online fashion merchandising certificate:

Fashion as an Art

  • Fashion design
  • Professional techniques in fashion apparel
  • Textiles, fibers, and fabrics
  • Fashion illustration
  • Beginning sewing
  • Pattern design
  • Fashion draping
  • Fashion trends
  • Costumes
  • Color theory
  • Contemporary clothing construction
  • Dressmaking

Fashion as an Industry

  • Introduction to fashion careers
  • Selecting fashion
  • Buying fashion
  • Promoting fashion 
  • Fashion merchandising
  • Visual merchandising
  • Retail buying
  • Tech packs for manufacturing apparel
  • Marketing fashion locally, nationally, or globally
  • Fashion e-commerce
  • Event planning and promotion
  • Principles of retail

Fashion as a Business:

  • Consumer psychology and behavior
  • Marketing
  • Principles of small business
  • Management of retail stores
  • Entrepreneurship
    • Working as a freelance contractor
    • People skills for the freelancer
    • Opportunities in freelance industry and trade
    • Marketing for freelance businesses
    • Finance and accounting for freelancers
    • Launching a freelance business

And, to get a sense of fashion overall, you might study:

  • An introduction to fashion
  • Fashion history

What Are the Potential Goals and Outcomes of Fashion Merchandising Certificate Programs Online?

An online fashion merchandising certificate helps students develop their fashion and business sense. Cultivating an eye for what fashions will trend and sell is a key to success. So too is developing analytical abilities and business sense in areas such as buying, selling, distributing, merchandising, promoting, and coordinating fashion.

Some more technical outcomes of an online fashion merchandising certificate may include:

  • Having students create a professional portfolio showcasing their fashion and business skills.
  • Placing students in an industry internship to help them develop key skills and hands-on experience.
  • Helping students develop a resume that demonstrates their skills in fashion design or merchandising.

If the primary goal of fashion merchandising is to turn fashion into something that sells, an online fashion merchandising certificate helps students learn how to do so. It also helps students pursue a career in the field of fashion or transfer their credits to a fashion merchandising degree program.

What Are the Different Types of Fashion Merchandising Certificates?

Different schools offer different types of certificates in areas across fashion merchandising. Some schools call their certificates “Certificates of Completion” and others give them specific names, such as “Fashion Merchandising Certificate” or “Fashion Business Certificate.”

Some subtitles of Certificates of Completion include:

  • Alteration Specialist
  • Costume Design and Production
  • Image Consultant
  • Retail Sales Manager
  • Textile and Apparel: Fashion Stylist

These and other Certificates of Completion have very specific curriculum designed for fashion industry needs. Students often pursue certificates like these when they have a clear idea of how they want to apply their education.

Some certificates with specific titles include:

  • Fashion Business Certificate
  • Fashion Merchandising Certificate
  • Visual Fashion Merchandising Certificate
  • Advanced Fashion Design and Apparel Manufacturing Certificate 
  • Fashion Design Certificate

It is important to note that these and other certificates with specific titles may have a broader academic focus than the title suggests. But the names of the fashion certificates, whether “Certificates of Completion” or certificates with specific titles, typically clue prospective students in to the purpose of the certificate. A fashion business certificate, for example, will likely blend coursework in both fashion and business. A visual fashion merchandising certificate will likely delve deeper into visual merchandising (such as designing window displays) than a general fashion merchandising certificate (which might explore visual merchandising but only as part of a larger collection of merchandising components).  

Despite the clues that certificate types and titles provide, always read through a certificate’s curriculum, learn what the program is all about, and even inquire into the kinds of careers related to that training. All of this will help you get a sense of whether or not a particular certificate is right for you.

What Is the Academic Structure of an Online Fashion Merchandising Certificate?  

Fashion merchandising certificates generally have two parts: a set of core classes and a set of elective classes. The core classes cover the essential content and skills of the certificate and are based on industry standards and needs. Most commonly, schools prescribe a set list of core classes that students must take to meet the certificate’s requirements. Core classes typically comprise eight-five to ninety percent of the curriculum.

Schools also let students pick and choose courses from a list of elective credits. Some schools offer a list of ten to fifteen elective courses and require students to select two, three, or four. Others offer a list of sets of classes (with two to three classes per set) and require students to select one set. Elective classes typically comprise ten to fifteen percent of the curriculum.

While students will likely take tests and write papers in each of their certificate classes, they won’t typically take a comprehensive exam or write a final thesis as they might in more advanced degree programs.

How Long Will It Take to Earn an Online Fashion Merchandising Certificate?

While associates, bachelors, and masters degrees take two, four, and two years to earn respectively, an online fashion merchandising certificate can be completed in six to twelve months. As such, students might take just eight to fifteen classes to earn their certificate.

Why such a short amount of time and so few classes? Certificates are typically short because they aren’t meant to thoroughly immerse students in subjects; rather, they are meant to introduce students to certain subjects or enhance or deepen their knowledge in them.

For students who want to explore a new-to-them subject or enhance their existing knowledge without pursuing an advanced degree, certificates might be a wonderful option.

What Experience Do I Have to Have to Pursue a Fashion Merchandising Certificate?

Most commonly, students do not need to have work or educational experience in fashion or business to earn an online fashion merchandising certificate. Depending on the school and certificate, students might simply need to have:

  • A high school diploma
  • In some cases, an associates or bachelors degree

Some students start their higher education by earning a fashion merchandising certificate. If they decide that they like the field and want to continue their education, they might apply their certificate credits to an associates or bachelors degree program.

Other students tack a fashion merchandising certificate onto an existing bachelors degree. Their bachelors degrees might be in business, fashion, or another subject altogether such as history. Students who have a bachelors degree in business might earn a fashion merchandising certificate to specialize their business knowledge in fashion. Students who have a bachelors degree in fashion design might earn a fashion merchandising certificate to add business to their repertoire.

Students who have a bachelors degree in history, for example, might study how to design cutting edge fashions based on past fashion trends. Or a student might simply want to shift his or her career to the exciting world of fashion.

As you consider your options, keep in mind your educational background and career goals. Both should help you determine what kind of certificate in fashion merchandising you want to pursue. 

What Is Fashion Merchandising?

If you want to study fashion merchandising, it might help to better understand what it is and why students study it. Fashion merchandising relates to sourcing, making, marketing, and promoting clothing and accessories. It involves identifying and using the best business practices to produce and distribute fashion and share it with the world. The field requires the skills, talents, and creativity of people with a firm grasp on fashion and business principles.

Upon considering the broad world of fashion merchandising—of producing and selling products—you’ll see that it is quite vast. One component includes setting and finding trends. Another includes sourcing items. Yet others include creating, marketing, and selling products. In fashion merchandising, professionals consider everything from finding great fabrics to thinking about the social, economic, and environmental impact sourcing has to exploring the best ways to display and sell clothing and accessories. The field and industry of fashion merchandising is so vast that learning about it might be best done through a structured educational program.

Professionals who hold a fashion merchandising certificate gain an understanding of the field broadly or an area of the field more specifically. Added to a bachelors degree in business, fashion, or fashion merchandising, a certificate might serve professionals in a variety of careers. Used on its own, a certificate in fashion merchandising might help professionals pursue entry-level jobs in the field.

How Can I Apply My Education?

Fashion merchandisers play a variety of roles and perform a number of duties in the industry. Depending on where they work, they might:

  • Study and share the latest fashion trends.
  • Peruse markets and manufacturers to find fashion-making materials, clothing, and accessories.  
  • Make clothing and accessories and prepare them to be sold.
  • Work with other people to find, buy, and sell products.
  • Create displays, plan shows, and use other marketing and promotions tools to share and sell products.

These are just some of fashion professionals’ potential roles.

How Much Might I Earn as a Professional Fashion Merchandiser?

That depends, of course, on your level of education and your specific occupation. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, gives us a sense of some potential salaries. The following occupations’ wages are from a 2016 survey:  

  • Retail sales workers earned a median annual wage of $22,900.i
  • Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a median annual wage of $60,530.ii
  • Fashion designers earned a median annual wage of $65,170.iii
  • Advertising, marketing, and promotions managers earned a median annual wage of $65,170.iv
  • Buyers and purchasing agents earned a median annual wage of $60,700.v
  • Market research analysts earned a median annual wage of $62,560.vi

Retail sales workers and wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives did not have to hold bachelors degrees to earn their reported median annual salaries. Professionals in the other occupations listed above, however, did.

If you’re not ready to pursue a bachelors degree at this point, consider jump-starting your education by earning a certificate. Then, down the road, consider applying your credits to an associates or bachelors degree program. While an associates degree program might only allow you to pursue entry-level positions, it could get your foot in the door or set you up to eventually pursue a bachelors degree. Once you have a bachelors degree, you might pursue the occupations listed above or others.

Note that not all credits in a certificate program transfer easily from program to program. Talk to a school counselor to discuss your future plans and to determine whether or not your certificate credits will transfers to an associates or bachelors degree.

What’s the Next Step to Finding Fashion Merchandising Certificate Programs Online?

Make your next move right here and now. We’ve gathered a host of certificate options in one place so you can explore what’s possible. Click on titles you find interesting and learn more about the school’s program, accreditation, and general information. Take note of differences and similarities and see what appeals to you most.

When you’re ready for more information, request it through our website. It’s that easy!


i bls.gov/ooh/sales/retail-sales-workers.htm ii bls.gov/ooh/sales/wholesale-and-manufacturing-sales-representatives.htm iii bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/fashion-designers.htm iv bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/fashion-designers.htm v bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/buyers-and-purchasing-agents.htm vi bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm

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